Freeform formulas and Partially Linked Modules shown on Module Content Report

Module Content Reportfreeform formulaspartially linked modules
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Model Citizn A+ 11
Freeform formulas and Partially Linked Modules shown on Module Content Report

Hi all,

Having now used the amazing Modano software for a number of client engagements and whilst the client and myself (as the modeller) are comfortable that the model is working as intended, I noticed that there are still instances where the module content report is flagging the use of freeform formulas and partially linked modules.

Should I still be concerned about these things being reported in the Module Content Report tool?  This is despite the fact that there is data from a single module linked into multiple modules, such as consolidations and multiple business unit models, etc.

Also, in some instances I find the use of freeform formulas to be correct from an accuracy perspective, but yet this is still being flagged.  The freeform helps with creating links between large workbooks which are too big to include in a single project.

I am concerned if I just simply ignore these flags for the above cases that in the future these might actually be relevant, especially when reviewing someone elses Modano model who may not have the same level of experience as I do.

What does everyone else do about these 2 items.



Jun Yan A+ 124

Hi Lance,

Thanks for the question, and it's a good one. The queries have come to mind, but I've sort of just pushed through and just noted it down.

Firstly, in my experience, I use the Module Content Report tool as a tool as a sort of Alerts Check.

The two scenarios you've mentioned are ones I've come across per:

1. Partial linkages can be required in many cases, one particular one I have come across a lot are instances where you are dealing with multiple business units, and you need to send from one set of historical data out to multiple forecasts modules - this is inevitable as different units are likely to have differing revenue drivers. It is important to look at the flags in the Module Report, and check that the historical data has been linked out appropriately, once complete, acknowledge or document the unused links (if required).

2. Freeform formulas can be required, especially in the instances you've mentioned. It is an unfortunate downside of the power behind the modularisation. Larger workbooks can require significant memory overheads (even worse if there are multiple large workbooks in use). This can be the case for large operational models drawing from data sources. Again, I would use the Module Report as a form of alert check to draw your attention to the freeform formulas, to allow you an opportunity to check and make sure they are working as intended. Once comfortable, again it is a case of acknowledging or document the cases (if required).

Hope that helps Lance.



Model Citizn A+ 11

Thanks Jun, very helpful.


Michael Hutchens A+ 189

Hi Guys, 

We do get asked this one a lot, and both of you are spot on. The Module Content Report tool is more of a warning/alerts-focused tool than an error detection tool, and its default settings are designed to flag potential issues in models, allowing for the lowest-common denominator user.

For new/inexperience users building reasonably small single-entity, single-workbook financial models, there's usually no reason why their model should contain freeform formulas or partially-linked modules, and in most cases, it's indicative of an inadvertent error. For this reason, these two items are included within the Module Content Report tool by default - i.e. we decided in favour of having too many warnings with a view to protecting new users, rather than less warnings with a view to reducing clutter for experienced users.

As you both note, partially-linked modules are often a necessary part of building multiple entity and multiple business unit models, as a single module (such as historical financial statements) needs to be linked into multiple modules (such as forecasts by business unit).

Freeform formulas are a little more controversial, but in some case - such as multiple workbooks too big to practically include in a single project - they are ncessary and, if used with care, very safe too. The key is ensuring that, if freeform formulas are used in category blocks, error checks are placed throughout the models ensuring that the addition and removal of categories is captured in all category blocks. We often simply use the ROWS function to do this - i.e. comparing category block row count.

When building sophisticated models which contain freeform formulas and partially-linked modules, after including proper error checks, we simply switch off these items in the report criteria step of the Module Content Report tool, as shown below:

So don't stress guys, there's probably nothing wrong with your models that detect these report items!